Troopships and the Regiment
The Regiment's involvement in two maritime disasters
The Troopship Kent 1825
The Queen’s and the 31st Foot left England for service in India in February 1825. The Queen’s embarked at Gravesend on the 5th February and the 31st Foot on the 7th. The Queen’s disembarked on the 7th June after one hundred and twenty one days at sea. Six men died during the voyage – but otherwise the voyage was considered uneventful!
Half the 31st were embarked on the Kent and half on the Scalaby Castle which arrived on the same day at Saugor Island and were then transported into boats and moved up the River Hoogly to Calcutta. The voyage on the Scalaby Castle was considered a healthy one. There were only eight soldiers on the sick list when it ended, three men had died on the voyage to India. But there was no sign of the Kent.
A fire had broken out during the morning of 1st March as she entered the Bay of Biscay. The fire spread rapidly and it soon became necessary to abandon the ship before she blew up. The Kent had been bound for China after disembarking the troops at Calcutta. There were 640 on board, 195 crew – the remainder officers and men of the 31st and their families.
The brig Cambria came to the assistance of the Kent and rescued many of the survivors. The Cambria though dangerously overcrowed arrived safely at Falmouth. All the survivors received generous help from the people of Falmouth. On the 16th March the wing of the 31st embarked in the transport Diadem for Chatham where they were cared for by the Royal Marines.
Having been re-equipped & clothed, Headquarters and part of the wing embarked on the Charles Grant and reached Calcutta on 16th August.
After the Sikh Wars the 31st embarked for UK on 2/3 August 1846, HQ with ten officers and 220 OR, 21 women and 32 children on the Madagascar. The left wing, 5 officers, 118 OR, 10 women and 10 children on the Plantagenet.
1 officer Lt R Sparrow and 5 men on the Madagascar and seven men died on the voyage home.
It is recorded that on landing of the 215 men with the HQ wing only 80 were unwounded.